Father Ian

August 24, 2018

 

“Live by the trinity of what is true, good and beautiful.”
Alexandra Stoddard, philosopher of contemporary living

 

During my spring 2011 Ireland tour, I wandered into a contemporary Catholic church in the center of a thriving beach town in Co. Sligo. I was stunned to find the triple spiral everywhere. On the doors and the floor, even carved into the backs of every chair. Oh, how I would love to have those chairs at my dining room table! Later that day our B&B host said that she was so intrigued by my website that she invited her priest to come meet me. Now, being Irish but not Catholic, I felt a rush of fear. The priest is coming for me!!!

That evening I was introduced to Father Ian, a congenial fellow in his early 40s. He was a bit guarded in sharing. I thought talking about the church with the spirals would be a safe conversation. I told him that I thought it bold to have a pagan symbol throughout a Catholic church. He said it is not a pagan symbol, it is the Sligo Cross. (I had to laugh—a county in Ireland has claimed a 5,000-year old stone carving as their cross.)

I went on to say that I see the triple spiral as a more contemporary trinity, more fluid, freeing me from the traditional linear and patriarchal Christian cross. Father Ian, with hands clasped behind his back, leaned into me and added, “The Christian trinity is fluid as well.” I agreed, and then suddenly spurted out that seeing Jesus bloody and dying on the cross frightened me as a child. He was up there because of me. It was my fault because I am a sinner. And now I’m supposed to offer my prayers to him?!

After a pause, somewhat startled by my own passion, to Father Ian I calmly said, “The cross has not been comforting to me, but the triple spiral has.” I went on to say that, for me, a contemporary version of the trinity is Heavenly Father, Earthly Mother, Beloved I Am. It’s how I find my place within Christianity. I affirm this in prayer every morning. It brings me a measure of comfort that I previously did not experience with the traditional trinity and cross.

I was impressed to learn that there were three churches in Father Ian’s tiny village—his Catholic church, an Anglican (protestant) church, and the third a mainstream Christian church. Add to the mix that this priest had replaced a pedophile priest in this small parish. Father Ian had called together meetings and shared worship services with the three religious communities, with great joy and success. He urged me to let him know when my next tour group comes to his area, as he would like to host a special interfaith mass with us. Perhaps the triple spiral really is the Sligo cross!

A few years after meeting Father Ian, I took him up on his offer to bring my Anam Cara Tour group to his parish and share in worship with the three local churches. I was surprised to hear from the owner of the B&B that Father Ian had, sadly so, left the church. Seems he met a woman and they had married. I like to think that the triple spiral dialogue had something to do with that.

The blueprint for the Anam Cara Journey 9-month program for women is the Triple Spiral. Think of it as the archetypal yellow brick road, delivering you to your own personal Oz. There you find out that, like Dorothy and her friends, you had along the power within. There’s still time to register for the next circle, beginning Sept. 8th, mentored by Rev. Kathleen. All details are on under Mentoring. Be sure to scroll down and discover Rev. Beth Astarte’s next Anam Cara Journey for women exploring sacred sensuality and sexuality.

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